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Boasting industrial development, a skilled and educated workforce, a relatively straightforward company registration process, and easy access to lucrative markets in Russia and Eastern Europe, Belarus offers numerous advantages as your company plans to grow internationally. In 2020, Belarus ranked 49th out of 190 countries in the World Bank’s ease of doing business rankings.
When your company begins to build Belarusian teams, you’ll need to familiarize yourself with the best hiring practices and labor laws that apply to your company. We’ve developed this guide to provide you with some essential employment insights and tips for hiring in Belarus.
What to know before hiring in Belarus
Before you begin to hire employees in Belarus, you’ll need detailed knowledge of topics like employment contracts, payroll, working hours, compensation, benefits, the makeup of the workforce, and recent updates to the labor code.
1. Contracts and termination
Like many countries, Belarus uses contract employment rather than at-will employment. Best practices are to draft strong employment contracts that include each employee’s job description, compensation, benefits, work hours, benefits, probation period, and termination requirements. Each contract should use either Russian or Belarusian and give compensation amounts in Belarusian rubles.
If contracts do not specify a fixed period, Belarus generally assumes them to be indefinite. Otherwise, contracts may specify various durations:
- A fixed term for a given project
- A fixed term not to exceed five years
- A period of seasonal work
- The duration of the absence of a worker whose duties require coverage
Belarusian law allows employment contracts to specify probation periods of up to three months. A contract that does not specify is assumed to have a probation period of about two months. After that time, termination of the contract is possible only in limited circumstances:
- Both parties agree to the termination
- The employee agrees to a transfer
- A fixed-term labor contract expires
- The employee objects to new labor conditions and initiates the termination
- The employee gives one month’s notice if initiating the termination
- Circumstances beyond reasonable control occur
If the company initiates the termination, it must provide three months’ redundancy pay as compensation.
2. Payroll and taxes
Belarus has a robust social security system that employees and employers must pay into. Employers should withhold payroll taxes from employee paychecks and put those withholdings toward social security funds.
Employers must pay 28 percent of payroll toward old age, disability, and survivor pensions. They must also pay 6 percent of payroll toward sick leave, maternity benefits, family allowances, unemployment benefits, and funeral costs, as well as an additional 0.3 percent to 0.9 percent for workers’ compensation.
3. Compensation and working hours
Companies in Belarus use a tariff system to structure salaries. Your Belarusian employees’ compensation will likely depend on the Collective Bargaining Agreements (CBAs) and labor remuneration agreements in your industry as well.
Compensation must also meet minimum wage requirements. As of 2021, the minimum wage in Belarus is BYR1,450 per month.
As in many countries, the standard workweek is eight hours per day and 40 hours per week. Overtime is permitted if employees consent and if they receive additional time off or overtime pay of 200 percent. The workday, overtime included, cannot exceed 12 hours, and overtime cannot exceed 10 hours per week or 180 hours per year.
4. Leave and benefits
Belarus observes nine public holidays, and employees should receive these days off, along with at least 24 additional vacation days off per year.
Belarus’s social security program provides compensation when employees are out sick. Through social security, employees should receive 80 percent of their usual pay for the first 12 days of illness and 100 percent after that.
Belarus has relatively generous maternity leave policies as well. Mothers generally receive 126 days, or about 25 weeks, of paid maternity leave. The leave time increases to 140 days in the case of a multiple birth or complications.
Mothers can also take an additional three years of unpaid maternity leave and resume their original positions upon returning to work. If an employee has another child during that three-year absence, the maternity leave cycle starts over.
Belarus has a public healthcare system for its nationals, and most employers provide supplemental health insurance coverage as a benefit.
5. Job market and workforce
Belarus employs a labor force of nearly 5 million people. The workforce grew for decades, reaching a high of about 5.1 million from 2012 to 2016. However, it has been shrinking since 2018 as the population declines. Unemployment has been steady or declining as well, standing at about 5.28 percent as of 2020.
The Belarusian workforce is well educated and trained overall. About 53 percent of the population aged 25 and older have completed tertiary or specialized secondary education. An additional 44 percent have completed general secondary education or vocational training.
Belarus has a special vocational education and training (VET) system financed by the European Union (EU). It comprises three levels of basic education: technical vocational education, secondary special education, and higher education. It also offers several options for further education, including team training in educational institutions and organizations.
6. Recent amendments to the labor code
Belarus has recently amended its labor code in response to the Covid-19 pandemic.
It has relaxed previously tight restrictions on off-premises work, for instance. Previously, the law required most employees to work at their company’s physical location. Only workers like truck drivers and flight attendants, whose work involves travel, were exempt.
Now more employees can work remotely if they choose. If you decide to establish a physical location for your company, more employees will have the option to work elsewhere, even abroad.
Belarus now imposes mandatory fixed-term contract extensions as well. Previously, when fixed-term contracts were due to expire, employers could extend them for as little as a year. Now, employers wishing to extend contracts must extend them for their entire potential duration, or for three years if the employee is transferring to a new position. This change provides employees with heightened long-term job security.
The new amendments also require 14 calendar days of paternity leave for fathers, to be granted at the father’s written request. Companies may provide extended paternity leave if they choose.
Additionally, Belarus has eased its immigration laws to help international residents enter and remain in the country. It has relaxed registration deadlines, broadened eligibility for permanent residence, and reduced the entry bans imposed for immigration violations. These changes make it easier for global companies to bring in international personnel.
The cost of hiring an employee in Belarus
The costs of hiring a Belarusian employee will vary with your company’s priorities and approach. You may incur higher expenses if you offer extensive benefits or lower expenses if you prioritize a trim budget.
Your expenses may also vary by industry. For example, if your company works in information technology, you will likely need to provide higher compensation and more benefits. IT professionals generally receive much larger salaries and more Western-style benefits and perks than the average Belarusian employee.
Here are some of the hiring costs, both direct and indirect, you may encounter:
- Incorporation and registration expenses
- Recruitment postings
- Assistance from recruitment organizations
- Applicant-management software
- Reference and background checks
- Travel costs for interviews
- Benefits, including supplementary health insurance
- Bonuses and perks
Remember that your company will likely want to provide some form of health insurance as a benefit for its Belarusian employees, even though public options exist. You will need to budget accordingly to ensure comprehensive coverage.
Unlike some countries, Belarus does not require a 13th-month bonus. If employers provide this bonus, it is a gratuity.
Hiring practices in Belarus
Hiring someone in Belarus is likely to be a familiar process overall. Still, you’ll want to keep a few best practices in mind to optimize your hiring strategies:
- Diversify your recruitment strategies: As in many countries, Belarusian job seekers turn to various sources to find new employment. You may want to place job postings online and use more traditional methods like advertising in newspapers or at industry conferences and career fairs.
- Use the local language: Belarus has two official languages — Belarusian and Russian. Many Belarusians also speak a dialect known as Trasianka, which blends elements of both. In official documents, such as employment contracts and offer letters, you should use Belarusian or Russian. Consider also engaging translation services to ensure clear communications and help new hires feel at ease.
- Expect to work with trade unions: More than 95 percent of Belarusian employees belong to trade unions, and collective labor agreements and contracts will likely affect new employees’ salaries. Be sure to consult union policies before drafting and signing new employment contracts.
- Implement nondiscriminatory hiring policies: Belarusian law prohibits hiring and employment discrimination based on race, gender, nationality, religion, language, political beliefs, mental or physical disability, participation in a trade union, property ownership, or official status. These laws are strict and have very few exceptions. You will need to avoid these topics in job postings and refrain from asking potentially discriminatory questions during interviews.
- Invest in quality onboarding: Your new Belarusian employees will benefit from welcoming, informative onboarding sessions. You may want to set aside time for reviewing employment contracts, setting up workspaces, training, and generally helping your new hires understand your company culture and values.
What does a company need to hire employees in Belarus?
One of the first steps to hiring in Belarus is developing a legal way to add Belarusian employees to your teams. One common approach to this requirement is setting up a subsidiary, a local extension of your company controlled by your parent company.
The first step is to decide what type of company you will incorporate as. Belarus offers three options for incorporation — a limited liability company (LLC), a representative office, or a joint-stock company. Most international companies pursuing growth in Belarus choose to incorporate as LLCs. This option is relatively familiar and offers more opportunities with fewer restrictions.
If your company elects to establish an LLC, you must complete a lengthy list of required tasks:
- Deciding on and registering an approved company name
- Appointing at least one director and at least one shareholder
- Drafting formal company documents, such as articles of association, in both Belarusian and Russian
- Notarizing your company documents
- Submitting a registration application
- Opening a corporate bank account
- Depositing the minimum required share capital of EUR 1
- Developing an official company seal
- Preparing to submit annual audited financial records
Even though Belarus has relatively business-friendly policies, setting up a subsidiary is often time-consuming, expensive, and labor-intensive. This preparatory work can take weeks, even months. More and more companies are partnering with Employers of Recordlike Globalization Partners to make the process more efficient.
Globalization Partners already has an established entity in Belarus, allowing your company to bypass many of these complex establishment requirements. By working with us and using our automated global employment platform, you can start building teams sooner and get your operations in Belarus running more quickly.
Hiring remote employees in Belarus
Though your company may try to meet candidates in person, international hiring often requires remote interviewing. Here are a few tips to make the process run more smoothly:
- Optimize your shortlisting: One of the best ways to ensure good remote interviews is to put real effort into your screening and shortlisting. You’ll likely want to do short phone screenings, asking targeted questions and narrowing your candidate list. Then you can use remote videos to have more substantial conversations with a smaller list of finalists.
- Focus on structure: Developing highly structured remote interview strategies enables you to ensure a consistent and fair process. Be sure to discuss your interview topics ahead of time and ask similar questions to all candidates. You may also want to develop rubrics for evaluating candidates or invest in applicant management software to help you stay organized.
- Make interviews a team effort: One of the benefits of remote interviewing is that you can loop in team members distributed across different locations. Team members who cannot attend live interviews can often review a recorded version instead, as long as your company has obtained the necessary consent.
- Ensure protection of personal data: Belarus is not currently part of the EU, so compliance with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is not mandatory in hiring. However, in 2021, Belarus’s House of Representatives adopted a draft resolution law that defines personal data, sets criteria for personal data protection, and outlines the penalties for noncompliance. When the law takes effect, your company will need to abide by its requirements in recruiting and hiring. Consider partnering with Belarusian legal experts for guidance.
Learn more about Globalization Partners’ EOR platform
When it’s time for you to begin hiring new employees in Belarus, Globalization Partners is here to help. Using our fully automated, AI-driven, global employment platform, your company can hire and manage employees from anywhere in the world with just a few clicks. You’ll build teams more quickly and simplify your operations in Belarus. Our legal, in-country experts are also here to support you in meeting the challenges of international growth.